Does Hepatocellular Carcinoma Hold the Key to Aging?

According to a report by phys.org, scientists at Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical university of South Carolina discovered an interesting connection between lung cancer cells and the cellular aging process. The ideas behind this research are now being tested with hepatocellular carcinoma. Researchers hope that better understanding this process could lead to increased knowledge regarding human aging and better treatments for cancer. Keep reading to learn more about this development, or follow the original source here for more information.

What is Hepatocellular Carcinoma?

Hepatocellular carcinoma is a cancer originating in the liver. Despite its rarity, hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common form of primary liver cancer. The exact causes of hepatocellular carcinoma have yet to be identified. Hepatitis B, and C, as well as heavy consumption of alcohol, however, all contribute to an increased risk of developing this form of cancer.

Commons symptoms of hepatocellular carcinoma include bloating, or swelling of the stomach, loss of appetite, weakness, or fatigue, and nausea, and vomiting. If detected early, hepatocellular carcinoma may be treated with a surgical procedure or liver transplant. Other therapies, such as radiation, cryoblation, and chemotherapy, may be used in advanced cases, or to help control the cancer.

Click here to learn more about hepatocellular carcinoma.

Part of the Process

Aging is something everyone does. It’s also something everyone’s cells do. Specific parts of chromosomes react to various stimuli over time and this eventually causes certain cells to die. Cancer cells, it seems, do something different. They have a way of protecting these sensitive chromosome parts (known as telomeres) that other human cells appear to lack.

In their new research, a group led by Dr. Besim Ogretmen, describes the significance of a protein called p16. Some cancers express especially low levels of p16. P16 appears to function as a form of cellular decision-maker. When telomeres begin to fall apart, p16 can step into the equation and persuade the cell to live longer.

Strain Test

Researchers decided to put p16 to the challenge. Using a chemical inhibitor, researchers caused damage to several types of cancer cells. The inhibitor normally prevents cancer cells from protecting their telomeres. In cases where the presence of p16 was high, however, cells were able to avoid death and simply progres through the aging process.

Researchers then determined safe and effective doses in patients. Further plans to test the inhibitor in a clinical trial are underway. Researchers plan to study patients with hepatocellular carcinoma in various locations. The study is considered especially important due to the increasing number of cancer survivors nationwide. This population is expected to shift demographically older in the next few decades. As a result, Ogretmen hopes his team will be able to find a way to both delay the aging process and more effectively treat cancer.

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